Rock Tech Lithium receives green light to build refinery in Guben

The German-Canadian company Rock Tech Lithium has received final approval from Brandenburg’s state government for its lithium hydroxide converter currently under construction in Guben. There is no mention of whether subsidies from state funds will also be provided. Rock Tech Lithium recently received a funding cancellation from the federal government.

The question of state funding arose in particular after it became known in May that Rock Tech would unexpectedly not receive any money from the federal funding pot created in 2023 to establish a battery cell ecosystem in Germany. The company then announced that it wanted to rely on other support to complete its lithium converter in Guben – in particular from the state of Brandenburg.

As a lithium processing company, Rock Tech is therefore an upstream link in the battery cell supply chain. In other words, it is actually the target group of the aforementioned federal subsidy programme.

At the presentation of the funding programme last year, German Economics Minister Robert Habeck said that investments in the battery value chain would contribute to Europe’s strategic sovereignty. “It is disappointing that we are now not receiving the funds from the TCTF programme,” CEO Harbecke was quoted as saying in the German newspaper Handelsblatt in May. He added: “However, we are in very constructive dialogue with the Brandenburg state government. We assume that the state of Brandenburg will be able to mobilise sufficient regional funding to realise the project.” The local community of Guben reportedly also has a “great interest” in the project being completed.

In the current communication on the approval, the funding issue is omitted. It merely states that around 160 jobs are to be created in Guben and recapitulates the construction process. Rock Tech Lithium announced the construction of its plant in Guben with advance authorisation at some risk: “Rock Tech has made use of the legal option of allowing an early start to the project. This made it possible to prepare the construction site even before the final authorisation was granted. The city council of Guben is closely monitoring the project,” the company explains. The Brandenburg State Environmental Agency has now given the green light ‘in an efficient immission control procedure with public participation’. The authorisation procedure took a total of two years.

German Environment Minister Axel Vogel commented: “With the final approval for Rock Tech, Brandenburg can expand its leading role in the production of batteries for the expansion of e-mobility and electricity storage. (…) We are thus proving once again that Brandenburg is an attractive location for the transformation to a climate-neutral economy.”

“This is an exciting day for Rock Tech,” added Rock Tech CEO Dirk Harbecke. “Not only have we received the full permits to operate our Converter in Germany, but also are we the first company in Europe to permit a full-scale Lithium Refinery – without any appeals to the project. This is testament to the great work of our team. I also would like to thank the Brandenburg authorities for their support and diligence.”

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